I left a piece of my heart on the pages of The Nightingale. I could quite honestly leave it at that as I'm not sure I have the words to convey how mucI left a piece of my heart on the pages of The Nightingale. I could quite honestly leave it at that as I'm not sure I have the words to convey how much this book affected me.
I read quite a bit of WWII fiction and nonfiction but at the risk of sounding cliched The Nightingale was different. I was incapable of putting it down, sleep paled into insignificance as Vianne and Isabelle's story took hold and I finished it at 3am, emotionally wrung out.
Kristin Hannah captures the horror, the hunger, the heart, the biting contrast between humanity and inhumanity with an eloquence that left me breathless and ugly crying. Alongside the atrocities there are moments of great tenderness, love and always hope. This story is one big 'feel' and that's what makes it unforgettable.
Andrée de Jongh, the young Belgium woman who established an escape network over the Pyrenees which later became known as the Comet Line was Hannah's inspiration for Isabelle. It doesn't seem to matter how much I read of the holocaust the unimaginable horror never lessens in intensity. But The Nightingale recognises the quiet courage, strength and determination of women, those who protected friends, saved Jewish children, sacrificed and survived, made gut wrenching choices, worked in the Resistance, risked their lives for strangers, endured the unthinkable, died fighting evil. Those like Isabelle and Vianne ...
I've read many of Kristin Hannah's books, I love her writing. Winter Garden is a favourite but The Nightingale is exceptional. I'll go out on a limb and say it's one of the best books I've read ... the kind of best that lands a novel on my books-to-be-buried-with list. I can't stop thinking about it, my heart hurts ... ...more
Most of you know I'm a huge Tudor fan and having just walked many of the places I've been reading about in historical fiction for years it gives a newMost of you know I'm a huge Tudor fan and having just walked many of the places I've been reading about in historical fiction for years it gives a new level of 'feeling' to my reading. I found The Light in the Labyrinth to be a well written blending of historical fact and imagination and I think the author's notes clarify that Wendy Dunn's imaginings are indeed plausible.
We follow Catherine (Kate) Carey, daughter of Mary Boleyn and niece of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's 2nd wife as she joins her Aunt Nan at court. Whilst the painting of Anne Boleyn may not be as many of us view her, I found it quite sweet to see her through Kate's adoring and naive eyes.
Kate quickly matures as she's confronted with not only the reality of her birth but her Aunt's fall from favour, as powerful men like Thomas Cromwell conspire to bring about the Queen's downfall. I love and crave more detail but remembering the target audience, there's enough political intrigue and court treachery to satisfy a Tudor enthusiast without overwhelming someone new to the period.
The Light in the Labyrinth only covers the last few months of Anne Boleyn's life and not a lot happens as such but I found it a quick, enjoyable read. What surprised me, given how much Tudor fiction I've read, was the emotion of the Queen's final days in the tower, accompanied by loyal Kate and the 'care' of Anne Boleyn following her execution. ...more
We started with Ry and Julia's story in Nobody But Him, followed by their best friends Lizzie and Dan in Someone Like You. In the Boys of Summer finalWe started with Ry and Julia's story in Nobody But Him, followed by their best friends Lizzie and Dan in Someone Like You. In the Boys of Summer final installment we join Joe and Anna on their road to happiness. Of course there's roadblocks and wrong turns, because if there wasn't that would be kind of dull ... and Victoria Purman writes anything but dull.
Joe is Lizzie's brother and Anna, an old friend of Dan's ... they're both carrying hurt and a load of baggage but a night of alcohol-fueled-toe-curling-knock-your-socks-off-sex slowly grows into new beginnings and more toe-curling-knock-your-socks-off-sex a second chance at love.
What I've loved about this series from the beginning is the feel of Middle Point, this fictional coastal town on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia feels real. So real you want to live there, join the community and be part of the Ry and Julia, Dan and Lizzie, Joe and Anna circle.
You really can't go wrong with this sexy, steamy, sweet, funny trilogy. I've loved spending time with these couples, getting to know them and care about them and I'm a little sad to say goodbye.
But bring on May 1st because Victoria Purman has a new novel out, Only We Know, set on the wildly beautiful Kangaroo Island. ...more
Wow Rachael Johns saves the best 'til last, Outback Ghost is my favourite of the Bunyip Bay series. I love a good romance but there's so much4.5 stars
Wow Rachael Johns saves the best 'til last, Outback Ghost is my favourite of the Bunyip Bay series. I love a good romance but there's so much more to love in Outback Ghost ... depth, layers, grief, loss, community; it's a really touching read.
I've felt for the Burton family since the disappearance of Adam Burton's young sister was first mentioned in Outback Dreams. When single mum Stella books the holiday cottage on Adam's farm to enjoy a much needed break and special time with her 7 year old daughter Heidi, the mystery slowly unravels.
Adam and Stella, *sigh* I loved their interactions, their chemistry and I really loved that there were no miscommunication issues providing conflict and drama. I loved that Adam saw Stella as a package, the way he related to Heidi was just adorable. And last but not least, I loved the joy that Heidi brought to Adam's mother's life, what a special relationship between Heidi and Esther.
'I've had sex' she told the cat proudly. 'Hot, messy, crazy, fabulous sex. With a man.' Not just any man but undoubtedly the hottest, sexiest man on the planet. Whiskers merely looked up and then turned her head and walked off in disgust. 'Might not be such a big thing for you,' Stella called out as the cat wandered back into the hallway, 'but this is monumental for me.'
The community really came together with love, support and acceptance in this final installment, a healing time ... and not just for the Burton family.
Outback Ghost will have you teary, sighing and smiling ... I loved it and I'm sad to say goodbye to Bunyip Bay.
Absolutely mesmerising, Kate Forsyth takes the magic of storytelling to a realm above and beyond.
From the frivolity and excesses of the 17th centuryAbsolutely mesmerising, Kate Forsyth takes the magic of storytelling to a realm above and beyond.
From the frivolity and excesses of the 17th century Court of Versailles to austere French cloisters and 16th century Renaissance Venice. I'm fascinated by this period in history, Kate's research and superb imagery give a perceptible sense of time and place and her breathtaking imagination brings the Rapunzel fairytale to life. I loved the vivid descriptions of affairs, betrayals, politics, fashion, entertainments, the horror of the plague, persecution of Heugenots, (Protestants) recantings and executions, the Affair of the Poisons where many were sentenced by the Chambre Ardente under charges of witchcraft and poisonings. I probably sound like a bit of a freak but I love it all, the history both fascinates and terrifies me.
Bitter Greens unfolds from the perspective of three extraordinary characters; the wonderful Charlotte-Rose de La Force, confined to the Abbey of Gercy-en-Brie after displeasing the Sun King, Louis XIV, the young girl Margherita, nicknamed Persinette (little Parsley) imprisoned in a tower (her story told by nun, Soeur Seraphina on befriending Charlotte-Rose) and the beautiful courtesan Selena Leonelli, 'La Strega Bella' ... her story both heartbreaking and horrifying.
Bitter Greens is a dark tale; love, desire, power and vengeance pulling at each other. So much sorrow, heartache and cruelty but hope and love the constants that eventually offer redemption.
Bitter Greens holds a world you slip into effortlessly, disappearing for hours, binding you, haunting and bittersweet ... I was alternately desperate to know and longing to savour. It's a must-read.
Kate Forsyth truly does weave magic!
I also loved Kate's The Wild Girl ... (a 5 star favourite) but oh my, Bitter Greens is my favourite of favourites!
Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force was a French noblewoman, novelist and poet. Her fairytale collection written during her banishment included 'Persinette' eventually renamed Rapunzel.
After falling in love with Sherryl Caulfield's exquisite writing and Seldom Come By earlier this year, I've been a wee bit excited waiting f4.5 stars
After falling in love with Sherryl Caulfield's exquisite writing and Seldom Come By earlier this year, I've been a wee bit excited waiting for Come What May. Beginning Come What May, my friend Karen (who guest reviews on The Eclectic Reader) was angst-texting me as she read Seldom Come By ... all the emotion of that epic love story came rushing back.
Sherryl writes from the heart, her affinity with nature and the love and care she takes with her characters is evident. Come What May is such a sensory feast, lyrical writing, whether the simplest of phrases or vividly descriptive, it played like a movie in my mind.
I didn't have the same connection with Gene as I did with her mother Rebecca in Seldom Come By but what I loved was the emotion that Sherryl Caulfield pulled from me ... dislike, guilt, admiration, horror, sadness, so much sadness, but joy too. I love it when an author's writing encourages you to consider more and judge less, I like being encouraged to think about a person's character, their motivations. For me it means an author has done her job brilliantly, whether I ultimately like a character or not.
Having finished Come What May, I'm still torn about Gene; she's complex, there's a lot going on with her, some of it confronting, which had me constantly swinging between compassion and dislike but then there were times when the sun shone through and I saw 'her'.
Auld Lang Syne was one of those moments ... without fail Auld Lang Syne brings me to tears, so much emotion and so many memories in those simple words.
I loved the scenes describing the Canadian wilderness, Cree culture, the running of the huskies, I love Gene's brothers; for their good hearts, for all they have been through. And Sonny, my hero ... I love you.
There's so much more I want to say about Come What May, it's a difficult one to review without spoilers, so let me finish with ... I'm emotionally wrung out, but oh my heart, I loved it.
Come Full Circle can't come soon enough ......more
Fascinating, horrifying, evocative; Karen Brooks' meticulous research and eloquent writing took me to medieval England in the 1400's ... from the fictFascinating, horrifying, evocative; Karen Brooks' meticulous research and eloquent writing took me to medieval England in the 1400's ... from the fictional town of Elmham Lenn to Southwark, London and Gloucester and the world of ale-making.
Anneke Sheldrake is such an interesting character, what she endures while establishing herself as a brewster, plagued by prejudice, sabotage and tragedy made for harrowing reading. I found the entire brewing process surprisingly fascinating ... ale, hops, beer, the ale crones, ale-conners, taxes, laws, fines, bizarre punishments and corruption.
And what a wonderful cast of characters ... Betje, Adam, Captain Stoyan, Leander, Alyson; their fierce loyalty and unwavering friendship providing a beautiful sense of family and a lightness to balance out this story. I fell in love with them, especially Alyson, the feisty owner of the Swanne bathhouse, that woman had a heart of gold.
To keep it spoiler free I won't mention the antagonist by name, I'll just say it's been a while since I've hated a character with such passion. ...would the evil bastard ever die?? Maybe it was simply a case of 50 pages too many ...
The author's historical notes were a great bonus, I didn't pick up that Alyson was Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Bath and this is Karen Brooks' take on her life beyond The Canterbury Tales.
All up The Brewer's Tale was a page turner, rich with historical detail and characters to love and hate. ...more
First Frost started slowly. I panicked a little ... where's the magic, where's the magic? But before I knew it I'd been swept away.
I read Garden SpelFirst Frost started slowly. I panicked a little ... where's the magic, where's the magic? But before I knew it I'd been swept away.
I read Garden Spells 6 years ago but 10 years on revisiting the Waverley family ... sisters Claire & Sydney, Sydney's husband Henry and now 15 year old daughter Bay, Claire and Tyler's daughter Mariah, and quirky Aunt Evanelle and Fred, was like having a cup of tea with dear old friends you haven't seen for years but you pick up right where you left off ... comfortable, familiar and just plain good.
Each member of the Waverley family has a special gift, gifts that tie them to their family name. Bay knows where things belong, Sydney understands the language of hair, Claire uses her catering turned candy business to share the magic of flowers and herbs and Mariah ... well you'll just have to read First Frost to see if she has a gift. And who'd dare forget the mischievous Queen Anne home or the feisty apple tree.
In First Frost the Waverleys' are feeling a little out of sorts; unsettled and anxious ... it's that period of unrest before first frost when the apple tree blossoms signalling new beginnings.
It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.
Autumn felt like the whole world was browned and roasted until it was so tender it was about to fall away from the bone.
Sarah Addison Allen has a beautiful way with words and there's just something about her writing that takes me back to childhood ... looks of wonder, fairy dust and magical wonderful things.
First Frost is the type of read that makes me believe anything's possible ... like waking in the garden to fairies kissing your nose xx
Recommend: everyone needs a little magic in their life :)
Food is just something you grow and recipes are just words written in notebooks. They are nothing until the right person comes along. And that's when the real magic happens.
It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Diane Chamberlain's writing and I jumped at the opportunity to read The Silent Sister. And in part it didn't disappoiIt's no secret I'm a huge fan of Diane Chamberlain's writing and I jumped at the opportunity to read The Silent Sister. And in part it didn't disappoint; The Silent Sister was a compelling, twisty read, a difficult one to put down, but the ending was just too 'pat' for me taking the shine off an otherwise gripping read.
It's a story about the destructive nature of secrets; a dysfunctional family, a life built on secrets and lies ... the damage caused and scars left. When Riley cleans out her father's home following his death, tidying up her father's estate becomes a search for truth.
You know from reading the synopsis Riley's sister Lisa is alive. Clues are drip-fed to the reader, but in such a way you're impatient and twitchy for the next, then a few unlikable characters muddy the plot further.
However once the pieces of the jigsaw fit together and you see the final picture, well there's nothing wrong with that picture but the ending ... it just felt 'meh'. Not predictable ... more like; really. is that it? but what about? ... ...more
Accidents of Marriage is tense and raw and real. It's a beautifully rendered, insightful look at a family in crisis.
Told from the multiple p4.5 stars
Accidents of Marriage is tense and raw and real. It's a beautifully rendered, insightful look at a family in crisis.
Told from the multiple perspectives of parents Maddy and Ben and the eldest of their three children, 14 year old Emma, Accidents of Marriage covers the harsh realities and ripple effect of a family living with verbal and emotional abuse. Ben's anger and volatility are scary, his temper flares unpredictably, he throws things, he rages, his family tiptoe around on eggshells. When a car accident leaves Maddy with a devastating traumatic brain injury, this family's world shatters.
The aftermath of the accident is powerful and so real it's emotionally harrowing being in Maddy's head.
My heart broke for Emma ... thrust into the role of caring for her younger siblings, the lack of emotional and physical support was heart wrenching. I felt like the 'adults' in the story failed her. No child should have to cope with that kind of pressure.
Randy Susan Meyers writes with such sensitivity. My take ... clarity can come from the most unexpected sources. Love is not enough. It takes acceptance of responsibility and hard work to rebuild trust, to heal ... on both sides.
I thought Accidents of Marriage had a very realistic and satisfying ending.
My first Randy Susan Meyers read and I can't recommend it highly enough. Now to hunt down her other novels. ...more
Anna Romer earned herself a fan with her debut Thornwood House and with Lyrebird Hill she cements her position as a voice to be reckoned with in AustrAnna Romer earned herself a fan with her debut Thornwood House and with Lyrebird Hill she cements her position as a voice to be reckoned with in Australian fiction ... an exceptionally talented writer.
I adored every minute of Lyrebird Hill. For me Anna Romer is synonymous with lyrical, atmospheric writing; of such haunting and addictive quality you savour every word. Once again it's a seamless blending of contemporary and historical narrative, Ruby 2013 and Brenna 1898 ... past and present intertwine with dark secrets and pain.
Ruby Cardel returns to her childhood home Lyrebird Hill to unlock memories and the mystery of her sister's death. With the discovery of Brenna's diary and letters, Romer weaves the mesmerising story of two women seeking truth, generations and 115 years apart.
Lyrebird Hill never feels like a story being told. Some of our shameful history and treatment of aborigines made me cry with sorrow and outrage. The Australian landscape is so lushly described, I was immersed, my senses evoked ... eucalypts, camp fires, the scent of bush flowers, birdsong, Brenna's connection with the land and the aboriginal people tangible.
I rarely read books again. For its exquisite beauty Lyrebird Hill is one I will....more
Hard to believe this is Swedish author Fredrik Backman's debut novel ... what an unexpected delight! Can't believe I've used delight ... for4.5 stars
Hard to believe this is Swedish author Fredrik Backman's debut novel ... what an unexpected delight! Can't believe I've used delight ... for a story in which the protagonist, 59 year old Ove wants nothing more than to end his life and join Sonja, his wife of 40 years who has recently passed.
Ove is a grump, a die-hard Saab owner, a man who lives by the rules, cynical, ornery, taciturn but underneath all that bluster is a marshmallow heart. According to Sonja, Ove can be 'unforgiving' ... Ove calls it having 'firm principles'.
As we get Ove's backstory, we see him through Sonja's eyes, we share their sweet love story, and we feel Ove's heartache after Sonja dies and the colour leaves his world.
Enter new neighbours, Parvaneh and her family, a stray cat, a bunch of other interesting characters, a list of demands, and Ove's ordered life goes out the window. Along the way for me were unexpected laughs, tears and joy as Ove found new meaning and purpose in life. Oh that mangy cat and Ove were a match made in heaven :)
A Man Called Ove is a whole lot of feeling ... deeply touching, warm, sweet, snerk-funny, smart, sad, endearing. I laughed and cried. It really is quite irresistible. ...more
I'm seriously loving on this one!! It's one of those beautiful feel-good reads, right story, right time ... you know the one, warms your heart, leavinI'm seriously loving on this one!! It's one of those beautiful feel-good reads, right story, right time ... you know the one, warms your heart, leaving you feeling like you've been wrapped in a rainbow.
Portia has a gift, a knowing connected with food, it's a beautiful, magical, healing thing when she allows it to come.
I loved Portia from the start, I love how the story unfolded ... turmoil, chemistry, hurts, love and laughs. I wanted Gabriel and Portia to be together, neither were perfect but they seemed perfect for each other and I was torn between reading fast enough to see if my HEA wish was granted and savouring every delicious morsel.
"I am going to prove to you that I listen. I am going to prove that I love you in that madly, deeply, let-you-eat-crackers-in-my-bed, shouting-Stella-from-the-courtyard sort of way."
Linda Francis Lee does justice to a full cast of characters. It's not all sunshine and roses, there are some unlikable characters in the mix but for the most part I adored them - Portia's sisters, quirky neighbours Stanley and Marcus, Gabriel's daughters ... I liked Miranda with all her teenage angst but I have a soft spot reserved for Gabriel's youngest daughter Ariel, she's pivotal in the story with her insight and sass.
I can't recommend this one highly enough, if you love emotional reads with a touch of whimsy and magic, if you believe in the healing power of food and following your heart, you'll adore The Glass Kitchen. It really is love on a plate! ...more
The Escape Artist is an entertaining story, relatable if a little dated but that's to be expected considering it was first published in 1997.3.5 stars
The Escape Artist is an entertaining story, relatable if a little dated but that's to be expected considering it was first published in 1997. Coleen Marlo is a narrator I haven't tried before; smooth voice, an easy listen, a narrator I'd be happy to listen to again.
The Escape Artist held my interest and pulled at my heart strings, I was rooting for Susanna from the get go, understanding the lengths she went to to keep her son. Well paced, the plot is a little transparent, somewhat predictable and one of the sub plots a bit left field but overall it's an enjoyable, worthwhile listen.
I'm a fan of Diane Chamberlain's work ... I've read 5 or 6 and have been slowly working my way through her backlist. My favourite is still The Midwife's Confession but I have her new book, The Silent Sister coming up soon. ...more
I enjoyed The Darkest Hour but it's far from my favourite Barbara Erskine. It's my first time listening to Sandra Duncan, she did a wonderful3.5 stars
I enjoyed The Darkest Hour but it's far from my favourite Barbara Erskine. It's my first time listening to Sandra Duncan, she did a wonderful job with narration and I'd certainly pick up something narrated by her again. I didn't give the 20+ hours a thought when I bought The Darkest Hour, I was only interested in getting into the latest from one of my favourite authors but if I'm being honest, this one dragged at times.
The plot moves effortlessly and distinctly between WWII the Battle of Britain and the present day as art historian Lucy Standish delves into war artist Evie Lucas's mysterious past and gathers research for her biography.
The time-slip tale is something Barbara Erskine does exceptionally well and I was interested in both Evie and Lucy's story. The descriptions of airfields, raids, the pilots and their planes were well researched and evocative so I really enjoyed those scenes.
However, I much prefer Barbara Erskine's ancient history 'hauntings' to the ghostly premise in The Darkest Hour ... this one just didn't have the same tragic or sinister pull.
Recommend: enjoyable but too easily put down....more
I was introduced to Isolde Martyn with Mistress to the Crown, which I enjoyed and her latest novel The Golden Widows, even more so. I seriously can'tI was introduced to Isolde Martyn with Mistress to the Crown, which I enjoyed and her latest novel The Golden Widows, even more so. I seriously can't get enough of the historical players in the War of the Roses, whilst I'm well-read on the history, Isolde Martyn's uniquely fascinating perspective made for a refreshing read.
The story sashays back and forth between Yorkist widow Kate Neville (cousin to King Edward IV and sister to the influential Richard Neville, known in history as Warwick the Kingmaker) and Lancastrian widow Elysabeth Woodville. Isolde Martyn's attention to detail ensures both women are entirely accessible and equally captivating.
Elysabeth and Kate are strong, intelligent, passionate women, protective of their children. The Golden Widows explores their struggles, tears and triumphs, the fight to claim a widow's dower, reverse attainders, regain a child's inheritance and pursue happiness.
I just love Elysabeth Woodville's story, yup I'm totally a White Queen fan and I also really enjoyed seeing the relationship blossom between Kate Neville and William Hastings, the King's chamberlain.
An interesting aside, it took me a little while to work out where Katherine Neville, Duchess of Norfolk sat in the scheme of things ... Aunt to Katherine (Kate) Neville, Baroness Hastings (just in case you're the slightest bit interested lol.) The Duchess of Norfolk's fourth and last marriage was to John Woodville, brother of Elizabeth Woodville ... their marriage earned the nickname the "diabolical marriage" - HA wonder if that had anything to do with the 'scandalous' age difference - John at 19 and Katherine 65.
The Golden Widows is a believable blending of historical fact and embellishment, a good fix for War of the Roses insatiables and historical fiction fans. My only complaint, I didn't want it to end. ...more
Thanks to my friend Karen (who guest reviews on my blog, The Eclectic Reader) for raving about Maybe Someday and cheering when I finally picked up myThanks to my friend Karen (who guest reviews on my blog, The Eclectic Reader) for raving about Maybe Someday and cheering when I finally picked up my first Colleen Hoover novel. I'm so happy I did. Colleen Hoover's writing is smart and funny and sweet and refreshing and she's big on music.
I have a thing for stories with music.
Music has always played an important part in my life, it's my warm place and safe harbour, it connects people, it comforts, inspires and uplifts. Music plays an integral part in Maybe Someday, it's a character in itself and I LOVE that in a book. The unique thing about the music in Maybe Someday is, Sydney and Ridge write the lyrics, they connect through music, it's their way of communicating, expressing themselves, the music moves the story forward.
I loved what was happening between Sydney and Ridge, their dynamic, the humour, awkwardness, the sweet heart-skippy feeling it gave me. BUT it didn't sit well that Ridge was emotionally cheating on his girlfriend and I didn't buy into his bullshit justifications. It felt real, I might not have liked it (that's just me) but Colleen Hoover kept it real.
Maybe Someday is sensitive, emotional and surprisingly refreshing. I wish I could tell you why it is so refreshing but that would spoil things so just trust me and read it :)...more
Fun, fun, fun ... Risky Business is a winning combination of sizzle, sex and hilarity and Amy Andrews totally rocks the natural, laugh-out-loud dialogFun, fun, fun ... Risky Business is a winning combination of sizzle, sex and hilarity and Amy Andrews totally rocks the natural, laugh-out-loud dialogue.
I loved the contemporary setting, Brisbane (where I live) and even more perfect ... a book store, Birdie's secondhand romance bookstore *sighworthy* - the almost tangible smell of aged ink on weathered paper. And pepermint. Two aromas synonymous with the shop.
Sensible, career focused, romance reading Samantha, of the body image issues and talking, tap dancing eggs HA. And then there's sexy, risk-taking Nick. After Nick's grandmother Birdie passes away he swaps his extreme sports career for running the bookstore while he recuperates from injury.
Despite Nick and Samantha's instant attraction I loved how naturally things progressed between them. Samantha's many blind date dramas cracked me up, not to mention the whole vibrator, vodka, Tim Tam scene. As much as I cringed over her self-deprecating comments, I adored Nick for building her up.
Have to say I was deliriously happy for Samantha (and myself) when her eggs finally shut the hell up with their cheeping ;) ...more
That ethereal cover caught my eye, (reminiscent of Picnic at Hanging Rock) the synopsis appealed and when I discovered Thornwood House was th4.5 stars
That ethereal cover caught my eye, (reminiscent of Picnic at Hanging Rock) the synopsis appealed and when I discovered Thornwood House was the work of Australian author Anna Romer, I had to have it. Thornwood House is a beautiful atmospheric read, where the past and present collide in dark secrets and obsession.
Audrey Kepler welcomes the chance for a fresh start with her daughter Bronwyn when she inherits an old homestead in the small town of Magpie Creek in South East Queensland. Thornwood House was the childhood home of Bronwyn's father, Tony.
Thornwood House holds tragic history - an old photo, letters and a diary open the door on a haunting love story and murder and mystery spanning four generations.
Reading Anna Romer's website; Magpie Creek is based on the actual town of Boonah ... I spent quite a bit of time in the area growing up and Anna captures the essence of rural Queensland, the beauty and harshness of the Australian landscape ... her writing is a sensory treat.
Eerie, haunting ... Eloise Oxer's narration adds that extra special something to the story.
Anna Romer is a fresh new voice in Australian fiction; with her debut novel she's earned herself a fan. I'll definitely be picking up her next book. ...more
Back in my happy place with Do Over crew Maddie, Avery, Nikki, Kyra and Deidre ... I keep saying these women could renovate a garbage can and4.5 stars
Back in my happy place with Do Over crew Maddie, Avery, Nikki, Kyra and Deidre ... I keep saying these women could renovate a garbage can and I'd be along for the ride.
I love the reno/rehabbing details, the beautifully described surrounds, sunrises and sunsets. Most of all I love the womens' personal do-overs, their growth individually and in their relationships. Read the books in order and you see that progression, feel their frustration, laugh and cry with them, cheer them on.
Their latest assignment in Florida Keys is the run down estate of former rocker, William Hightower aka William the Wild. I honestly didn't think the whole aging rock star - ego -rehab - recovering alcoholic 'thing' would do it for me but I'm happy to admit I was sooo wrong, and I loved that the spotlight was on Maddie in this installment.
This series is all about transformations ... The House on Mermaid Point takes an unexpected sad turn, an emotionally real one but through laughs and tears, I'm hooked. I love these women and I love their connection ... can't wait to see what they're up to next.
PS Booyah! for the *up yours* to bitch production head Lisa Hogan :) ...more
Am I too old to say I love Corduroy. He's the most caring, sweet little bear ... Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy were two of my boys' favourites whAm I too old to say I love Corduroy. He's the most caring, sweet little bear ... Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy were two of my boys' favourites when they were little. Corduroy Lost and Found is another delightful story about this intrepid little bear.
Corduroy loves his best friend Lisa and Lisa loves Corduroy. I adore Corduroy's innocence and sense of wonder and my boys always delighted in Corduroy's misadventures, mishaps, adventures. It's a sweet story about friendship, with much the same charm as the original books by Don Freeman and the whimsical illustrations will enchant both children and adults.
I had a bear best friend as a child, the teddy that I've had since I was born and boy has that bear had some adventures (much like Corduroy.) We lived in Papua New Guinea for a few years when I was little and Ted dropped from my stroller, was picked up by a dog and a month or two later was found in a fence. 46 years on, my Ted is still with me, a little moth-eaten and worse for wear but still much loved ... so Corduroy Lost and Found really resonated with me....more
Nora Roberts' The Witness (2012) was a 5 star listen for me this year so I just had to have The Collector on audio. I loved Julia Whelan's narration iNora Roberts' The Witness (2012) was a 5 star listen for me this year so I just had to have The Collector on audio. I loved Julia Whelan's narration in The Witness so ... can't really go wrong ... right?
I'm pretty good at suspending belief, this is after all fiction, but I did find the whole professional housesitter/writer (Lila) and artist (Ash) chasing down a contract killer, implausible and just a bit ridiculous. Baddie killing off the hero and heroine for their sheer stupidity would have been more realistic ... oops did I say that out loud.
That aside, I quite liked people-watching Lila and teapot poodle Earl Grey earns this one extra cuteness points. And for a lengthy book it doesn't drag at all ... good job on the narration Jennifer Whalen.
Despite some eye-rolling this was actually an enjoyable, easy listen, I didn't dislike the story but I didn't bother catching up on the few missed minutes ... grr annoying telemarketer.
Recommend: hmm ... for me it didn't come close to The Witness ...more
A slightly different feel to other novels I've read by Kate Forsyth but it's an interesting journey to re-publication for the story first conceived 30A slightly different feel to other novels I've read by Kate Forsyth but it's an interesting journey to re-publication for the story first conceived 30 years ago by a then 16 year old Kate. Dancing on Knives is kind of languid and meandering and yet strangely compelling. And a testament to Kate's skill as a writer that I was fascinated whilst in the midst of so many unlikable characters.
Dancing on Knives is a novel of passion and family dynamics ... the severely dysfunctional Sanchez family. Twenty year old Sara Sanchez, suffocating under the weight of an egotistical, bullying father and loss and longing, so crippled by anxiety and panic attacks she hasn't left the family farm in 5 years.
I loved the strong sense of place (Narooma, a small town on the far south coast of NSW) and the importance of food, recipes passed down through generations ... descriptions literally making my mouth water, adding light and warmth to an otherwise dark tale. And how I adored Sara's grandmother Consuela Sanchez.
Sara inherited her grandmother's tarot cards, her prophetic 'knowing' and her recipe book. That was one of my favourite parts, I really enjoyed the descriptions and memories of that recipe book and I loved that Sara listened to her grandmother's wisdom, tapped into her inner strength and found a little peace and happiness.
Consuelo's recipes were all kept in a very thick old exercise book, bulging with odd bits of paper - old remedies, directions for making dandelion wine or rosemary shampoo, hand-scrawled notes on the secret properties of fruit and herbs - basil for enticing true love, rosemary for fertility, thyme for courage, apples for love and healing, figs to spell-bind love, sage for wisdom.
‘Thyme is best for courage,’ Consuelo told her. ‘Make a cup of thyme tea with honey, that’ll help make you brave. Or wear a sprig of it in your hair, so you can smell it."
That was the ghost of her grandmother, Consuelo Sanchez, whose roast goose cooked with pears could make grown men tremble. ‘A stick of cinnamon is the secret,’ Consuelo would tell Sara, standing at the end of the bed, a hunched little figure in black, a shadow among shadows.
I liked the magical feel, references to the macabre Little Mermaid fairytale, the Spanish culture, the segue from present to past and back.
Augusto Sanchez, I loathed ... passionate, egotistical artist, self absorbed, bullying human being, quite frankly I thought he got what he deserved ... oops, I mean I couldn't find it in myself to care about his 'accident'. For that matter, I didn't really care much for the rest of Sara's family either lol.
Not my favourite of Kate Forsyth's, that honour goes to the The Wild Girl but still wonderful storytelling. ...more
I loved The Bungalow & Morning Glory but with Goodnight June Sarah Jio catapults straight onto my favourite author list. As a book lover and unabaI loved The Bungalow & Morning Glory but with Goodnight June Sarah Jio catapults straight onto my favourite author list. As a book lover and unabashed re-reader of childhood favourites, I adored Goodnight June.
June inherits Bluebird Books after the death of her great aunt Ruby and it was that quaint bookstore, holding so much history, memories and secrets that held me captivated. Then June discovers the letters of friendship and support between Ruby and Brownie (children's author Margaret Wise Brown) and I was mesmerised ... what a joy to read, sincere and heartwarming.
Sarah Jio blends the past and present seamlessly with these letters and I had a hard time remembering that it was in fact, fiction ... that the origin and inspiration for Goodnight Moon was a wonderful imagining.
Goodnight Moon is a childhood classic near and dear to my heart, not so much for the story now but the memories it evokes. Read to me by my mum, the soothing rhythm, bunny's bedtime routine and effort to delay sleep holds universal appeal, and I have my mum's old copy which makes it extra special.
It took me a while to warm to June, hardened by her profession and success, but as she reevaluated her life and realised the importance of family and forgiveness she won me over. And all that professional knowledge proved useful in her fight to save her bookstore from foreclosure. I think I fell in love with Italian restaurant owner Gavin before June did ... he makes a pasta for every occasion and emotion ... what's not to love??
Goodnight June is a little bit romantic and a whole lot of love, it's warm and comforting and couldn't have come at a more perfect time in my life. Slipping into its pages was time spent in Bluebird Books, which felt like coming home.
and PS seeing it coming didn't lessen my enjoyment of the story ... not one little bit.
I rarely reread books unless they're children's books but Goodnight June will be one I will, time and again. It's a keeper on my bookshelf and earns a special place in my heart. ...more
1. History and truth - Sue Monk Kidd's powerful and sensitive blending of fact and fiction delves into5 Reasons The Invention of Wings made my Top 5
1. History and truth - Sue Monk Kidd's powerful and sensitive blending of fact and fiction delves into the ugly roots of slavery and racism. The Grimké sisters grew up in a wealthy, slave-owning South Carolina family yet became significant abolitionists and social activists. The Invention of Wings is loosely based on Sarah Grimke's story and the narration alternates between Sarah and Hetty (Handful) the slave given to her on her 11th birthday. It's enlightening having both viewpoints.
2. It's no secret Jenna Lamia is one of my favourite narrators ... she has southern down pat but Adepero Oduye is Handful. Sensitivity and empathy add another dimension to this powerfully narrated story.
3. Charlotte, Handful's mother and the Grimke's seamstress, spends nights making quilts, and her own story quilt. Preserving her family's story was so touching it brought me to tears ... beauty amidst the pain and suffering.
4. It's vivid, appalling, haunting and compelling. It's about strength, courage and the wings of change. I liked the Secret Life of Bees but The Invention of Wings is deeper, more complex, more moving, it's just ... more.
5. Novels like this bear witness to our less-than-human history. You trust me don't you? It's a must-read. ...more
Take Me On takes place during a period of Crash Into You and without spoiling things for anyone who hasn't read the series let me just say I enjoyed iTake Me On takes place during a period of Crash Into You and without spoiling things for anyone who hasn't read the series let me just say I enjoyed it a whole lot more than I thought I would. Rachael's brother, West was pretty much a dick in Crash Into You and I wasn't thrilled Take Me On was going to be his story. Must have been that smack up the head I gave him because he redeemed himself. I still think the family need to take some of their megabucks and cough up for serious therapy ... the Lousy Parent award won't cost them a thing.
I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) aspect, McGarry nails the gym atmosphere, the hard-core training, sweat-blood-tears determination, the fight side of things in amateur/pro sport.
Haley I liked immediately, she's tough and yet vulnerable, protective of those she loves and she fights for what she believes in. And West, well he grows in this installment and his growth and maturity is realistic, not some inexplicable change in character. And I liked him (nearly choked admitting that) and his biceps. West and Haley are just plain good for each other, the chemistry is there, sparks fly and it gets heart-melt-y good.
Kudos to Katie McGarry, she keeps changing it up and the whole troubled, heart-achy theme is not getting the least bit old. Her exploration of relationships is insightful, the issues are real, (homelessness and depression) it's big on those values like honesty, integrity and responsibility and it's tempered with hope.
Breaking the Rules is next, Dec 30th 2014, we re-visit Echo and Noah from Pushing the Limits which will be awesome but what I really want to know is when does Abby get her book? Come on, give us a hint, don't leave us hanging ;)...more
Following on from Ten Beach Road we join Maddie, Avery, Nikki, Kyra and Deidre as they breathe life back into The Millicent, a run down art deco mansiFollowing on from Ten Beach Road we join Maddie, Avery, Nikki, Kyra and Deidre as they breathe life back into The Millicent, a run down art deco mansion in South Beach. I've fallen in love with this eclectic bunch of women ... they could renovate a garbage can and I'd read.
Of course that might have just a little to do with the author so stay with me for a little Wendy Wax fangirl-ing ...
* love her style * strong female characters * insightful family & friendship dynamics * dry sense of humour * 90 year old Max owner of The Millicent is an absolute darling * beach setting *sigh* ... sun, sand, sea and cocktails; coming into winter in Australia it goes a long way to feeding the fantasy, even with the humidity, hard work and sweat storyline
Rebuilding The Millicent, their relationships and battered finances in the harsh camera spotlight (yep more reality show than remodeling. much to their horror) was once again pure entertainment and escapism for me and I can't wait for the next chapter in their lives.
After recently listening to the audiobook of While We Were Watching Downton Abbey (and loving it) I joined the Wendy Wax fan club and dived straight into her Ten Beach Road series.
The synopsis gives you the gist of things but what I love most about Wendy Wax is she totally gets her characters, female friendships, family dynamics, those mother-daughter relationships that make you feel like you need therapy ... do you know what I mean? She writes in such an intimate way they feel real to you, not just characters in a book.
Even having little in common with Avery, Nikki and Madeline's former lifestyle (I identified with Maddie as an empty-nester) I really could see myself joining them for strawberry daiquiris and cheez doodles (I figure they're a bit like our Aussie cheezels) at sunset. From mutual adversity to unlikely friendship, I liked the bond they shared, their humour and sarcasm, I am woman hear me roar strength, vulnerability, temper, quirks ... I loved it all.
The renovation of Bella Flora was a reno on steroids ... I loved the attention to detail, the blood, sweat and tears, the nitty gritty may not be everyone's cup of tea but it really appealed to me.
I'm following straight on with Ocean Beach (any excuse for another daiquiri) in anticipation of the July 1st release of book 3, The House On Mermaid Point. ...more
More than just a quirky title, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a unique tale that held my attention from start to finish. 15 yearMore than just a quirky title, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a unique tale that held my attention from start to finish. 15 year old Christopher Boone narrates his own story.
He's a maths genius, doesn't like to be touched, struggles with emotional cues and connections, he's unintentionally funny, dislikes corn haha, hates the colours yellow and brown, he finds order soothing and his condition makes him very literal.
Early in the story Christopher investigates the killing of his neighbour's dog Wellington, unearthing something that turns the structure and order of his life upside down, pushing him far outside his comfort zone.
Mark Haddon captures Christopher's 'voice' insightfully, his unique perception of the world, how he thinks and feels and how his autism affects those around him ... you can't help but be pulled in. The prime-number chapters, narrative style and other quirks all add to the story.
Excellent narration by Jeff Woodman, worth the read. ...more
Tanya Saad's memoir is compelling, articulate, informative and moving. With the hereditary BRCA1 gene mutation and Tanya's family history it wasn't aTanya Saad's memoir is compelling, articulate, informative and moving. With the hereditary BRCA1 gene mutation and Tanya's family history it wasn't a case of if she got ovarian and/or breast cancer but when. Preventative treatment choices are confronting and life changing on both a physical and emotional level ... bilateral mastectomy, removal of fallopian tubes and ovaries but in terms of risk management, they're also life-affirming.
Tanya's childhood and family recollections are woven through the adult narrative; growing up in the small, country town of Taree, her Lebanese heritage, bullied in school, work in the family shoe store, the bond between herself and sisters, Paula and Vivian, their 3 month holiday to Lebanon in 1990 just months after the end of the civil war, her beautiful relationship with grandmother Teta.
As an adult Tanya moves on from Taree, to Canberra and a successful career and competitive sporting life. Following confirmation that Tanya, along with her sister Paula, had the BRCA1 gene fault, Tanya frankly shares the emotions, statistics, screenings, surgical choices, skin/nipple sparing/reconstruction options, and her ultimate decisions.
I love Paula and Tanya's 'mantra' adapted from the movie Cool Runnings ..
I have pride, I have power. I'm a badass mother that don't take no crap from nobody.
A read rich in culture and courage, a tribute to the ordinary - extraordinary women (and to a lesser extent men) faced with harmful BRCA gene mutations.